Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday Short Subjects: Exploring the Grand Canyon without Leaving Home

A trip to the Grand Canyon must be on everyone’s Bucketlist; nearly 5 million people visit the park each year. “A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size…Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep…” are the words the National Park Service uses to describe Grand Canyon National Park on the park’s homepage

As early as the 1880s, there were proposals to make the Grand Canyon a national park, but the efforts of locals who did not want the federal government restricting what they could and could not do [sound familiar?] blocked every attempt. When Congress finally passed a bill designating Grand Canyon National Park, Ralph Henry Cameron, an entrepreneur with extensive businesses in the area challenged the bill in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled against him, but it took years to boot Cameron from the Grand Canyon. The entire tale was recounted in a PBS series on the National Parks. You can read it here

For many travelers, a visit to the Grand Canyon is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience—one that will require careful planning. Do you want to ride a mule down to the base of the Canyon? If so, you better plan at least 13 months ahead. Do you want to see the Canyon from the North Rim? If so, be prepared to drive an extra 220 miles. The NHPS website offers abundant advice on trip planning and a fair number of gorgeous images.

Google has gone one step further. Earlier this week they released Exploring the Grand Canyon on Google Maps

The images cover more than 75 miles of trails and roads! You can explore places you think you may want to visit (or revisit trails you previously traveled) and traverse scary paths you know are out of your league. Exploring the Grand Canyon on Google Maps is useful for trip planning, dreaming, reminiscing, or armchair exploring for the joy of it.

Have fun. I spent a bit of time on these amazing virtual trails and along the way discovered some unintended Easter Eggs. [Even Google is not perfect.] See if you can find the artifacts of the photographer’s fingers and faded orange baseball cap. [I swear I saw them once but can not find them anymore.]

What you should NOT find are any plastic water bottles littering the landscape. In 2012 the Grand Canyon National Park eliminated the sale of “water packaged in individual disposable containers, including plastic bottles.” Instead, park visitors rely on designated water bottle filling stations installed in high traffic areas of the park.

Have a great weekend. Happy exploring.

[PS If anyone from Google Maps is reading, I am able to carry a heavy backpack and up for mapping other parks as needed.]

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

No comments:

Post a Comment